On Demand Books is the company responsible for Esspresso Book Machines, kiosks that allow you to print "library quality" books in approximately five minutes. If there is any truth to the deal, readers will soon be able to walk into any store that has an Esspresso Book Machine and print any of the millions of books available through Google online. For just $8 the machine will churn out a single book at a rate of 145 pages per minute.
Google has already scanned and digitized millions of out of print books, and a deal like this could bring these books back into print for those who just can't stand reading ebooks on a screen. CNet reports that On Demand Books brought one of their machines to Google's Mountain View HQ earlier this week to show Googlers how it all works.
If you're wondering how the aforementioned $8 is divided, word has it Google keeps $1, On Demand keeps $1, $3 goes towards manufacturing and labor and the last $3 goes to the store where you printed the book. Given that the machines can cost between $75,000 and $97,000 depending on configuration, it's easy to see why there aren't more in the world. Most of them currently reside in universities or libraries.
Click here for more.
Image credit: CNet News
That said, if I print out a book from this kiosk, will the government come hunting me down after they outlaw the Google and Authors Guild book deal?
As a result, I have my doubts if it'd actually turn a profit; it's a very nice idea to think of, though; many of us simply don't like reading off of a screen, or reading off of e-paper; physical books are more comfortable and easier to read.
Of course, I'd also question their definition of "library quality;" given the brief time to print it all, I wonder what form of inks are being used, as well as the quality of the paper involved. Perhaps mostly, I question what durability the binding will be; since all the books are "printed on-demand," that means the machine is going to have to automate and adjust to binding a different number of pages each time, which could yield problems. (normal book printing involves precise, human-adjusted setting of the binding machines, that won't vary since it'll print a LOT of just one book)